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Difference Between Artisan & Craftsman

Artisans and craftsmen have similar jobs, as both make artistic objects by hand. However, there are some important differences, such as the level of creativity involved. Find out more about these creative careers.

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Comparing Artisans to Craftsmen

Artisans and craftsmen work in an artistic capacity, both creating items with their hands. However, artisans tend to work on more unique projects designed for aesthetic appeal while craftsmen master the creation of functional, mass-produced items. Read below for more on how these hands-on occupations compare and differ.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Artisan Formal education not required $48,780 (for all craft and fine artists) 2% (for all craft and fine artists)
Craftsman High School Diploma 14.51 per hour (for all woodworkers) -1% (for all woodworkers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Artisans vs. Craftsmen

Artisans and craftsmen have very similar occupations: they make objects, often artistic, with their hands. However, while artisans may repeat the items they make, they tend to ideate and design by creative inspiration and aim to capture qualities of beauty that may not have a functional value (a unique bracelet or sculpture, for example). Craftsmen focus on replicating a given piece exactly the same way to technical and material specifications. The purpose of their work is often the repeated production of functional objects with artistic elements, such as kitchen cabinets or musical instruments. Artisans tend to work in studios and craftsmen in shops or production factories. While these areas are usually ventilated, both professionals can be exposed to fumes and dust from the materials they work with. Generally, a craftsman's products will be made more quickly and with lower quality materials than that of the artisan.

Artisan

Artisans are professionals who have honed their hands-on artistic skills in a particular field. They may make unique handwoven fabrics, leather items, ceramics, blown glass, or jewelry, to mention a few possibilities. With skills in the fine arts, they add finishing touches to their work, such as painting, sketching, or engraving. Many artisans are self-employed, meaning they are able to set their own hours. Sometimes artisans work a second job or work overtime to meet deadlines.

Job responsibilities of an artisan include:

  • Utilize a high level of creativity
  • Select materials and tools
  • Use artistic techniques like drawing, sculpting, and painting
  • Design and create decorative, original products
  • Present and display items to the public

Craftsman

A craftsman is someone who, like an artisan, is highly skilled in their craft. However, the important difference with craftsmen is that they aim replicate for mass consumption. Instead of producing many different unique pieces, craftsmen work to make exact replicas of specific types of functional, utilitarian objects. Their methods may sometimes be traditional, though in many settings assembly lines and advanced computer equipment are now used, and the 'craft' is extremely technical. Craftsmen can work with wood crafts, tiles, and other types of materials.

Job responsibilities of a craftsman include:

  • Construct and assemble products for consumers
  • Observe safety protocols
  • Ensure technical specifications are met
  • Use power tools and advanced computer technology
  • Operate mechanized equipment

Related Careers

Anyone intrigued by what an artisan does might be interested in the career of a professional fiction writer, since both express unique ideas through their work. If you like what a craftsman does, you might also like what a carpenter does, since both involve building with their hands.

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